Sara Hall has spent the past ten years teaching Spanish to students in Kindergarten through college. Along the way, she has traveled abroad, filled her spare time with side jobs and summer gigs, and given life to two incredible boys. Due to feeling like she’d hit rock bottom, she has now embarked on a journey to mental, physical, and emotional wellness. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Yet, motherhood tends to feel like one of the absolute loneliest and most isolated places for a woman who is trying to manage keeping another human alive, maintaining a home, and keeping herself healthy all at the same time. Sometimes it is challenging enough to remember to take a shower, let alone worry about adding more to our plates by scheduling visits with other people and playdates with our infants who can barely stay awake. We are also under the stress of society telling us that we are meant to have it all figured out. The hardest part is that we are already inside our own heads overthinking everything we are doing wrong and then a commercial comes on showing the mom whose house is immaculate and whose baby is reading novels in Latin. Then on social media we see our high school classmates off on vacations with their children in matching swimsuits and their husbands wearing the newborns. We are constantly comparing ourselves with other parents and then being overly critical when we don’t quite meet the unrealistic expectations we have set for ourselves. Since we are so down about not quite measuring up, we then isolate ourselves, feeling unworthy or inadequate. Then those debilitating feelings lead to feeling guilty that we don’t just express gratitude for the wonder we do have in our lives. The danger of feeling so alone only perpetuates this cycle. So if it takes a village, how do we build that village when we already feel so alone? Where can we look for people who don’t make us feel inadequate and are not judging us for not having it altogether? First of all, no one has it altogether. The people who seemingly do are certainly facing battles that we cannot see. So let’s drop that nonsense! Take these steps to build your village and surround yourself with the love and joy you need-only escaping to the isolation of your own little island when you truly want time to yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a mom who has mastered the art of bringing new moms into her circle and be able to form mutual friendships. If you have not yet met that mom, guess what? You can be that mom! Here’s how… Family–If you have healthy relationships with your family, they can support you in many ways. If they are not able to babysit while you get some quality time in with your new mom friends, maybe they can help you take care of some light housework or cook a meal or two for you and your family. These tasks help lessen your load so that you can focus on building meaningful relationships with your new crew. Children’s activities–If you have an older child in school or daycare, organize a playdate outside of school. Better yet–organize a coffee date just for you and the other parents! You could also chat with parents before, during, or after gymnastics, music classes, Mommy and me yoga, etc. If you do not go to any activities yet, check out your local library or bookstore for story times that even infants can attend. Wherever children are, there are parents who want to socialize with you! Gym–After Zumba ® , on the treadmill, walking laps around the park, whatever it is you do to get your heart rate up–first of all, GOOD FOR YOU! Now go ahead and use those opportunities to connect. Some people want to be alone while they work out, and that’s ok too. Just don’t waste any opportunity to expand your village! Local Events–the MeetUp app has lots of groups, based on your interests-go to the Meetup app, join, and put in your keywords such as “New Mom” or “Baby Groups”, and you can find local groups to meet other Moms! You can also find events at your local library, in your local parenting magazines, at coffee shops, pretty much anywhere you go. It’s important that when you find an event, (for “just you” or for your whole family) that you dig deep for courage and introduce yourself to people. Ask questions! Get to know them and decide together when you will hang out next! Social (media) networking–Sometimes it is hard to get out in person when you have one or more little ones at home! Facebook has mom groups by state or sometimes by town. There are also some that are simply based on interests or gender of their children. If there is not one in your area, consider starting one. Invite the mom or two you know, who will invite the mom or two they know, and so on. Having a place to go for advice, venting, or just to have a crew you can talk to when you need it can go a long way. Virtual support group–Sometimes you just don’t feel yourself, and can’t get out of the house. There are lots of online support groups or people available to help you through tough seasons in your life. This can be especially helpful for parents with infants or who are finding it difficult to leave the house. Postpartum Support International hosts a weekly free online support groups for many parents struggling, with specific groups for military families, NICU parents. Local Support Groups— When you don’t feel like yourself, and/or are dealing with fears, anxiety, and the challenges of being a mom, there are local support groups where you can go and talk about some of the real struggles of parenthood. Go to PSI-CT’s Support Group page for information about a free support group near you! No matter which route you take to expand your crew, remember that even when you are comparing yourself to the mom group working out at the park together with their strollers, or the ones who sip their lattes during story time (while you wipe spit up off of the hoodie you’ve had on for three days), every single one of them needs to lean on someone else at some point. None of us get a trophy for handling this parenthood journey alone. So find your village and lean on them!